Monday, 16/7/2018 | : : UTC-7
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Duhamel and Buntin Dominate Pair Short Program

Reigning Canadian bronze medalists Meagan Duhamel, 23, of Lively, Ontario and Craig Buntin 28, of Vancouver, B.C., stole the show Friday when they captured the lead in the Canadian Pairs short program.

The duo who have been together about eighteen months smashed their seasons best score and sailed past World bronze medalists Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison.

Buntin who became World Champion in 2006 with his previous partner, Valerie Marcoux, teamed up with Duhamel in 2007 when Marcoux decided to retire from the sport. The pair had almost instantaneous success capturing the Canadian bronze medal only months after the pairing.

At the World Championships in Goteburg the team placed a respectable sixth. This was especially outstanding since Craig was struggling with a rotator cuff tear in his shoulder. He had surgery on the shoulder last spring and has undergone massive rehabilitation. Buntin reports he still has pain in the shoulder, especially in the lifts, although the shoulder is more stable. Duhamel also had pairs experience and finished sixth at the Canadian Championships in 2006 with Ryan Arnold.

Today Craig and Meagan took to the ice and looked and competed as a team on a mission. Today their mission was to take a step closer to becoming Canadian Champions. Craig squeezed Megan’s hand as the duo took to the ice. They appeared a bit nervous. Later they admitted they were shaking.

They skated aggressively in their short program set to the music “Lamentations” by Marimuz. They skated with great speed into high-flying double twist lift and then nailed their side-by-side triple toes. Their throw triple Lutz was huge and was so impressive that the couple received +2 GOE’s from six of the eight judges. Their lifts appeared effortless and all received level four from the technical panel. Their unison was impeccable and their chemistry on the ice has improved substantially this season.

They smashed their seasons best with a short program worth 65.74 points and will skate last in the free skate.

“We came here with a plan to do our best short (program) and our best long (program),” Duhamel said beaming. “We were hoping we would be rewarded with first-place marks in both programs, so one step done.”

Still in contention World bronze medalists Jessica Dube, 21, and Bryce Davison, 22, of Varennes, Quebec, sit second with a season’s best short program score of 62.22 point. The program was not the disaster we saw at NHK and had many nice elements in it. Despite the fall by Jessica on the opening triple Salchow, the Quebec based pair produced a solid program highlighted by a throw triple loop and five level four elements. The quality of their stroking and the smoothness of their edges make the duo a pleasure to watch.

“Other than the Salchow, everything else was very smooth,” Davison stated. “There’s nothing to complain about. We have had problems in the short program all season and this was a definite step up from NHK. We usually have much stronger free programs, so we’ll just look forward to tomorrow.”

Mylene Brodeur, 21, and John Mattatall, 26, delivered a high energy skate which positioned them steadily in third place with a season’s best score of 55.63 points. Their program skated to the music “Chambermaid Swing” was highlighted by a solid throw triple loop, wonderful spins and an overhead lift with a helicopter dismount. The seventh place finishers at last year’s Canadians ran into problems on the side-by-side triple toes when Mylene placed her hand on the ice to prevent her from falling. The Quebec based duo has made steady improvements this season and are skating with more confidence after placing fourth at Skate Canada earlier this season.

Rachel Kirkland, 16, and Eric Radford, 23, showed great promise last season, when the duo placed fifth at last year’s Canadian Championships. Unfortunately, nature has intervened and Kirkland has grown this season. They have struggled of late, and today it was no different. It was a disappointing skate for the Torontonians. After opening with triple twists Kirkland struggled on the throw triple loop and fell on their side-by-side triple toes — which were downgraded. They picked up 49.77 points and are currently in fourth place.

The pair event will conclude tomorrow afternoon with the free skate.

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